An object in motion, stays in motion.
I keep signing up for races. Travel races specifically. I have discovered that I need to stay in motion– perpetually, intellectually, physically. This is what works for me: encountering culture, discovering new ground, and sharing in the runners’ spirit. So it was for me with the Du Motion Dubrovnik Half Marathon. I can’t get enough of it–the energy from the other runners, the camaRADerie, the medals, the food.
My son signed up for the 5k, so he is getting his carb loading in alongside Mom. Like mother, like son.
Saturdays are for traveling to race packet pick-up. Packing gels, magnesium supplements, and electrolyte tables, I felt ready enough. I threw (*carefully strapped into car seats) my two young children into the car to make the 5 hour drive to Dubrovnik, Croatia. My husband requested podcasts, which I had readily queued, in hopes of it lulling our children to sleep.
It was Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Labor Day, where we were traveling from, so we ended up waiting 3 hours at the border, as everyone had the same idea of getting some coastal sun. Luckily, I was well-armed with road snacks and a good playlist (designed for the half marathon, but turns out it was multi-purpose) to keep the kids occupied. We also took a beautiful pit stop at the Battle of Sutjeska Memorial Monument.
We eventually arrive in Dubrovnik. See picture for reference on how awesome this place is.
Not only is this place awesome, it is MAGICAL. If there was ever a city straight out of a fairy tale, it is Dubrovnik. It is a walled city where one can imagine Rapunzel and Cinderella having a cup of Balkan coffee as their princes battle with swords over their honorable love, the backdrop along a rocky cliff, stoned off from the Adriatic Sea.
Dubrovnik is located along the Dalmatian Coast, in the southern part of Croatia. The massive high walls were started in the 7th century, but were really at their true height in the 15th and 16th century. The houses here are orange roofed, the hills Mediterranean, the sea blue, the ice cream top-notch, so it is no wonder that it is a hot spot for tourism. Cruise boats make frequent stops dropping off people wanting to get a glimpse of a city that is both equal parts intimidating and welcoming.
Lest we forget, I had a race to run.
Before the race started, before any race starts, you can feel the energy bouncing off the runners feet. They jog in place, laugh nervously with the person next to them, shake their arms out, jump up and down, fidget with their phones, taking selfies and restarting their playlists. We bump into each other, not minding the fact that we all smell funky even before the race starts. There is a little bit of speculation on who might be the ones we compete against, but mostly we are looking at each other like we understand the crazy (read dedication).
The gun goes. I do what I know how to do. Run.
As soon as I start running, a calm sort of takes over my body. I think I have run so much that it is a form of meditation in motion. My mind clears, I focus on my body, my senses, my ability.
It’s hot and hilly. The volunteers are amazing and help combat the heat by providing water and food frequently. They dump water on us if we want it, which I graciously accept. They cheer for us. There are bands playing. The tourists look a little confused but join in with the encouragement.
My rule is that I have to eat within 45 minutes of a half marathon distance or longer. When I do this, I can feel within 5 minutes energy returning. I usually use gels just because they are easier to carry, but have forgotten them plenty of times and Snickers work just as well for me. I repeat this around kilometer 13 or 15. That is enough to keep me going.
There is some elevation gain throughout, but they saved the most for kilometer 18. Slightly brutal, but I like that.
The race directors were kind enough to end the last .5 kilometer on a downward slope. I finished strong, if not in need of some electrolytes.
I was stoked to come in 18th out 316 female finishers. My time was 1 hour, 52 minutes. It wasn’t my best time, but I wasn’t planning on running a PR. I have a 50k coming up soon in Romania and did not want push too hard. It will be my introduction in the ultra world and I truly do not know what to expect.
My 6-year-old son did awesome on his 5k! My husband put his dad skills to work when he carried our 2-year-old most of the way, while chasing the other one.
After the race, we got to enjoy the beaches of Dubrovnik, dinner in Old Town, and a recovery hike around the gorgeous island of Lokrum.
Travel runs are great because they offer a lot of new, beautiful scenery to take in. Dubrovnik had plenty of this. The city itself is beyond worthwhile to visit, but when combined with the Du Motion Dubrovnik Half Marathon, it is an event I will not be forgetting.
Stay rad and stay tuned for my ruminations on my first ultra marathon, Transylvania100.